EasyJet is expected to break from the rest of Britain’s airlines today and support plans that would replace taxes on passengers with a tax levied on aircraft. The carrier is backing its perspective with an advertising campaign that hits home with the tag line, “Air tax is changing. Cut out the subsidies.” Those words are likely making other carriers squeamish, but are drops of honey for the government, which is proposing to hit aircraft with a per-flight tax based on aircraft weight and distance of the flight. Opposition to the idea is strong and has created talk of special considerations for Heathrow and transfer-passenger flights that have complicated the idea’s structure and perhaps its fair application. Even the U.S. Embassy in London has written to the Treasury to lay out its arguments against the plan. British Airways has conveyed its arguments as well, concerned that the new tax would kill UK airlines’ ability to compete in the market. And over the weekend, a senior government minister indicated the Treasury, which has been slow in moving on the issue, may not in fact change the system.
Jim Fitzpatrick, parliament’s under-secretary for transport, told local news that “there are very strong arguments from noncharter airlines that the proposals will penalise them.”